Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ukraine in trouble, Russia worse off

The Ukrainian government collapsed a few days ago and the acrimonious exchanges between the Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and the President Viktor Yushchenko have exceeded the usual nastiness of those frank and open political discussions.

Yushchenko has accused Tymoshenko of betraying Ukraine’s national interests by leading her party to form a new coalition:
According to Yushchenko, the decisions that the parliamentary factions of
the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, the
Party of Regions, and the Communist Party are jointly adopting are aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country with the aim of changing the political system.

"One subject is at work - how to bring the country to instability, create a balance of interests through destabilization, hold early presidential, parliamentary, and local elections... In other words, to establish a political regime in which neither you nor I would want to live," Yuschenko said.
In return Tymoshenko accused the President of madness and telling lies about her own and his political behaviour. This could go on for a long time and probably will.

In the meantime the notion of Ukraine participating in any progress towards membership of NATO will have to be abandoned and the most immediate beneficiary of yet another Ukrainian crisis will be the Kremlin who are happy to stir up trouble in that country.

Moscow Times reports that leaders of Georgia and Ukraine will be heading to the UN this week to ask for support for their membership of NATO. Curiously enough, they do not seem to be all that interested in membership of the EU.

President Saakashvili may have thanked the United States and European countries (not the European Union) for their support but he knows full well that the biggest and, apparently, the weakest of the EU’s member states will not even consider standing up to Russia and are reluctant to consider changing their energy policy in order not to have to rely on Russian oil, gas and coal.

Not that this has helped Russia at all. Their financial crisis started before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and has, so far, been considerably more severe than anything the West has had to put up with.

Still, President Medvedev knows how to deal with internal and external problems. His solution consists of screaming abuse at everyone else and announcing that Russia will delineate its southern Arctic boundary in order to strengthen to country’s position in the world. After all, a country that cannot properly develop its existing resources in Siberia must have more outlets that it cannot develop and from which it has to exclude necessary Western technology, knowledge and capital. Such a good idea.

The United States has announced that Russia’s decision will have no validity in international law.
The State Department statement said the United States has no information about any proposed Russian Arctic legislation. Medvedev's public statements indicated, however, that the effort is to define the Arctic's boundary within the Russian land mass.

"Arctic nations use different criteria for defining the portions of their territory considered to be part of their Arctic regions," the statement said. "The definitions are generally for the purpose of internal administration and have no standing in international law."

It said the Russians are gathering scientific evidence to support their earlier contention that the country's continental shelf reaches the North Pole. A technical commission under the Law of the Sea Convention will recommend based on scientific criteria the disposition of the submission, the statement said.
Well, it works with some people. While Russia has not managed to garner support even in the Central Asian countries, the EU is rushing to the rescue after extremely friendly talks between French Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon and former Russian President, now Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The EU will resume talks on the projected partnership if Russia withdraws its troops from Georgia completely, something she is quite reluctant to do. Of course, the two so-called break-away republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, will remain part of Russia.


Anonymous said...

Curiously enough, they do not seem to be all that interested in membership of the EU.

I'm not convinced about that. NATO is more attractive as a go-after target, b/c relatively speaking it is more within the reach (I said relatively). If the EU were to turn around and offer a clear membership prospect on the condition that the pursuit of NATO membership be renounced, I would be surprised if Ukraine said no (with Georgia is tough to say, but I still would think that given a choice either/or, Tbilisi would opt for the EU).

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